Rony Delgarde immigrated to the United States from Haiti with only $5 and a Bible. The first thing he saw when he landed at Miami International Airport were all the colorfully painted buildings.
“People paint their house yellow, white, red, blue and I said, ‘Wow, there’s so much paint in this country!'” Delgarde says.” I said, ‘When I get money in this country, I’m going to buy paint and take paint back home.'”
From that idea, Global Paint for Charity was born. Delgarde, who is 38 and works as a health care consultant, states the mission: “to recycle leftover paint from businesses and residents, processes it and then donate it to vulnerable families in developing countries all around the world.”
Delgarde explains the process for making paint in Haiti.
“We cut down trees and we started fire. We pick out rocks from the river and we put it inside the fire and close the fire for a week. And once it’s done, it’s a wonderful powder.” He points out that this type of paint washes away in the rain.
Delgarde’s nonprofit organization wants to make a lasting difference.
Two years ago, Delgarde started going to construction sites in the Atlanta area, asking them what they did with their leftover paint.
He told them, “I want to collect your paint and take it someplace where people don’t have access to paint. We’ll give them paint and we’ll change their lives. That’s when I started collecting paint.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that approximately 10% of the 637 million gallons of paint sold annually is left over, equal to about 64 million gallons per year.
So far, Delgarde has donated 6,000 gallons of paint to projects in Kenya, Haiti and Uganda. He recently returned from Equatorial Guinea, where he donated 200 gallons of paint to an orphanage for children who lost their parent to HIV/AIDS.
Read more: CNN